‘Press Your Luck’ remains part of ABC’s ‘Summer Fun & Games’
Elizabeth Banks is ready to bring summer television a Whammy again, and likely many more than one.
While keeping up with a busy schedule of acting and filmmaking — reaffirmed lately by her role in the FX on Hulu series “Mrs. America” and her writing, directing, producing and co-starring on last fall’s “Charlie’s Angels” movie reboot — she returns as the host and an executive producer of “Press Your Luck,” the ABC game-show revival that starts its pre-pandemic-taped second season Sunday, May 31. Banks poses questions to contestants who earn chances at cash and merchandise … but if they continue and stop the “Big Board’s” motion on an animated, mischievous Whammy, they lose all they’ve won up to that point.
“I had no expectations,” the lively, friendly Banks says of getting a Season 2, which offers the opportunity to win $1 million. “It just felt like a fun thing to do, as part of the whole ABC ‘Summer Fun & Games,’ and that for me and my family to have that kind of thing to watch would be really great. The (Season 1) ratings were good, but you just never know what to plan for, especially with what it takes to compete in broadcast TV now. I do believe we’ve improved the game play for the second season; it’s just so much more exciting.”
While she maintains she wants every player to win, self-professed game devotee Banks has input on the design of the Whammies through her behind-the-scenes role on “Press Your Luck” (which she shares with husband Max Handelman, among others). “Every once in a while, there’s one that I’m kind of ‘meh’ about,” she allows, “and they’ll say, ‘Well, we’ll put it into the rotation as a backup.’ I like to have a joke at the ready, so we’ll go through them so I can prep what I might want to say.”
Though she acknowledges Meredith Vieira and Ellen DeGeneres and their current game shows (respectively, the syndicated “25 Words or Less” and NBC’s “Ellen’s Game of Games”), Banks realizes she’s one of relatively few female hosts the genre has had: “Right now is a moment when you see more women doing it, but it’s true that this is not a traditional job for us.”
With the “Pitch Perfect” movies and the Hulu comedy “Shrill” among other successes she has enjoyed, Banks largely generates her own work now, and she notes that “Press Your Luck” fits in nicely. “We do a season in three weeks,” she reports. “I’m lucky that the show tapes pretty close to my house, and they set up the rehearsal space and the production office so that it’s literally 10 minutes from me. They’re very accommodating, and it’s become a well-oiled machine.”